tv [untitled] February 9, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm EST
conscience really matters when it comes to birth control decisions? and my fellow speakers have said, most women use contraception at some point in their life including 98% of catholic women. and judging by the fact that only 10% of u.s. catholics believe that church leaders have the final say about contraception, i think we can all agree that a woman's own conscience matters the most in matters relating to her health and life. the affordable care act is about fulfilling a need many women face, helping us to access quality affordable health care. and contraceptive access without co-pays plays an important role in doing that because it will make women healthier and families more economically secure. the u.s. catholic bishops want to move us away from what the affordable care act aims to do by limiting access to contraception to certain women based solely on who they work
for or where they go to school. this is simply wrong and an injustice to all women. i am here to stand with the president and hhs and their decision to stand up for me and the health needs to have day's students on campuses like fordham. thank you. >> hello, i'm a senior at georgetown university. i'm the outreach coordinator for hoyas for choice, a pro-choice organization that is not officially affiliated with georgetown university due to our stance on abortion, birth control, the hpv vaccine, condoms and most other areas of reproductive health. hoyas for choice is the only place to get condoms that are free or any condoms at all under the campus. i had a lot of reservations about going to a catholic
university. but i chose georgetown because of their belief and pluralism and sounding principles. nurture the whole person. i was assured that the views that differ from those considered to be the catholic norm would be respected and even nurtured in my four years at georgetown. and for the most part, they have been. the georgetown community accepts me as a person of color, as a bisexual, as a penitentiary from a low income background. where i feel georgetown has failed in their mission is to expect me as a woman. universities have a responsibility health and well-being of their population. and currently at georgetown, the student population is primarily women. a majority of the students at georgetown are women. and for the women, their partners and their families, birth control is not just a matter of convenience.
it is a basic necessity for every woman who wishes to prevent pregnancy. as long as catholic university continues to deny access to reproductive health services, they're also ignoring a fundamental part of women's health. i have heard horror stories of friends who are unable to use their student health insurance plans to access contraseptives and have been forced to pay out of pocket for these expenses. they were not covered by insurance, birth control can be as high as $50 a month or higher. and an expense my fellow students and i are simply unable to afford. by putting women aside and leaving them to gamble with the availability of these necessary preventative services, catholic universities are failing in their responsibilities. so when bishops ask me when what i expected when i wedge to a catholic university, it's not this. let there are too many
universities, there is an environment of stigma and shame around sex at georgetown. no woman should have to be exposed to that for making the responsible decision to access birth control. if you have a conflict with birth control, catholic bishops, can you choose not to use it. it angers me that georgetown is trying to take that decision away from young women. they are violating our consciences. finally, i'm so happy to be standing among these brave men and women. i'm so glad that catholics are standing up and saying that catholicism is not synonymous with opposing birth control. we know that catholic women use contraception. those working or studying at georgetown should have the same right to contraception as our piers working or studying at george washington university. i p am happy with the obama's administration to stand with and respect women.
i hope that students a universities will not continue to be denied they're basic right to contraseptives because our insurance does not cover the services. it is not my place to sell the catholic church what to believe. but as a student, i will tell what you i believe whether it comes to a decision about directly impact my piers and i. college students trust their universities. it is their job to nurture and support us so we can grow into the best people we can be. and as we grow into those people, it's their job to trust us as well. denying contraceptive sstss is no way to support your students. women should be able to access birth control and universities should be facilitating that access, not restricting it. that is not pluralism, georgetown. that is not respecting me as a whole person. i'm not and nor will i be ashamed of my decision to access birth control. any university that disrespects women and their health care
concerns by denying access to birth control are the ones that should be ashamed of themselves. to those trying to take away contraseptives, know that we will not stand down. we'll demand contraseptives and demand women's health services. [ applause ] >> good morning. my name is sandra fook. i'm a third year student at georgetown university. i'm also a member of georgetown law students for reproductive justice or lsrj, the only unfunded, unrecognized student group of the law school. georgetown lsrj is here today because we're so thankful to the obama administration for faithfully implementing the nonpartisan, medical recommendation of the institute of medicine. this regulation meets a critical need for young vulnerable women on the campuses of some of our
nation's largest and most prestigious universities. campuses where female students should not be discriminated against. at georgetown, female students struggle with a lack of contraceptive coverage that causes financial, emotional, and medical burdens. without insurance coverage, contraception can cost as much as $3,000 durlg during law school. for students who can't afford it, they're forced to go without contraception. they risk pregnancy and to be frank abortions that could be easily avoided. other women spend hours sitting in free medical clinics, missing class, trying to figure out how they're going to get accessible, affordable birth control. every fall the new female students e-mail georgetown lsrj and they whisper questions to us as if we're dealers who know how to find illicit drugs. they're panicked. and they're stressed because they don't know thou get birth control and first year law
students, they don't have time to sleep let alone trying to figure out something like this let alone spend the time on the bus traveling to the clinics that might not even have the birth control prescription you need on the day that you go. >> thank you very much. in the worst cases, women who needed this medication for other medical reasons have suffered dire consequences. just one example is a friend of mine, she's one example among many, she has cysts and has to take birth control to stop these from growing on her ovaries. her prescription is covered by our student insurance because it's not intended to prevent pregnancy. but when you let my university administrators and your employers decide and dictate
which medical needs are appropriate and acceptable and which ones don't instead of women and their doctors deciding that, then religious devil triwhen 98% of catholic women don't even follow this rule. that takes precedence over health. it's kmob. and when i say common, i mean 65% of cases. for our female students to be interrogated by insurance representatives and university medical staff about why they need the prescriptions and whether or not they're lying about their symptoms. would you want your employer to ask you questions like that? for my friends and 20% of women in her situation, she never got the insurance company to cover that prescription. and despite verification of her illness, after a few months, she just couldn't afford it anymore. she was denied repeatedly on the assumption that she really wasn't the birth control to prevent pregnancy. she's gay. so i'm thinking she was more concerned about cysts than accidental pregnancy. after months of paying out of
pocket, she just couldn't afford it anymore. and she had to stop taking it. i learned about all this when i walked out on a test and received a message from my friend. in the middle of her final exam period, she had been in the emergency room all night with excruciating pain. but without her taking her birth control, a massive cyst developed on her ovaries. she had to have surgery and have it removed. last night i got another message from her. she has an appointment next week because the doctors are concerned that the removal of her ovary may send her body into early menopause. as she put it, if it has, i have no chance of having babies, none at all. what she has a better chance of are the health complications of having menopause at an early age. in "the new york times," georgetown's response to my friend's tragedy was that these
situations are rare. well, thank god except that they're not rare. we surveyed women on our campus. nearly 40% of them have significant financial burdens as a result of the lack of birth control coverage. another student told us she knew birth control wasn't covered and neither was emergency contraception. and she assumed the best insurance treated all women's sexual health needs. so when she was raped, she didn't go to the doctor. even to be examined or tested for sexually trans mitted infection because she figured georgetown's insurance wouldn't cover something like that. this is the message that not requiring contraception sends. this policy says women's reproductive health care is not a necessity, isn't a priority as one student in our survey put it, this policy communicates the female student that our school doesn't respect our choices. these are not the feelings that male fellow students experience and they're not burdens that
male students must shoulder. in the media lately conservative catholic organizations are asking what did we expect when we enrolled in a catholic school? we can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to have their medical needs met, to not have our school create untenable burdens that interfere with our academic success. we expected that when we told our universities of the problems this policy created for the students, they would help us. we expected that when 94% of students oppose the policy that the university would respect our choices regarding student insurance that we pay for entirely as students. totally unsubsidized by the university. we did not expect that they would refuse female students this critical medical care. and we did not expect that women would be told in the national media that if they want comprehensive insurance that met our needs, not just the male students, we should have gone to school elsewhere.
even if that meant a sacrifice to our education. and we didn't expect to hear claims of religious sanctity and they provide insurance that provides contraception to faculty and staff and denies it only to its students. and we didn't expect to be told this is an affront to religious liberty when 77% of catholic law schools already provide contraception coverage to their students. we didn't expect that the voices of conservative wealthy male donors would be more important to our universities than our voices, the voices of students in need. that wasn't what any of us expected but that's what we got. now, what we expect is that the law of our country will protect vulnerable students. we expect the obama administration will stand firm in their decision to care for female students at catholic schools. it's the only morally right thing to do and we're confident that they're not going to let us
down. [ applause ] >> good morning. my name is tae suffer. i'm 19 years old at american university. i'm lucky and privileged to be able to attend a university and especially one that respects me enough to make positive decisions for myself and for my future. i'm here today to show solidarity with fellow students attending catholic universities, fellow students who deserve the respect and trust i receive. students who have the right to make responsible and educated decisions about their bodies. students who go to college so they can grow independently and become successful adults. students who deserve access to affordable birth control. it's well known that birth control saves lives around the globe. it is practiced for thousands of
years. yet, we in 2012 have to fight the young women to have contraception. i'm lee lated to be able to stand here and stand with other young people in favor of this basic human right. it scares me because of the prevalence of unplanned pregnancies, high rates of sexually transmitted infections and growing number of young people who have contracted hiv or who are living with aids. the thought that people my age are forbidden from accessing life saving contraseptives terrifies me. i went to high school in chicago. i saw several friends and piers experience unplanned pregnancies, contract sdis and discovered they were h.i.v.-positive. girls taking pregnancy tests in between classes, coming up with backup plans in case a friend gets kicked out by her parents, taking friends to local clinics to get tested for hiv, waiting for the results.
sorry. and holding a friend's hand as she tells her parents that she's pregnant. i've seen it all. but i do not judge anyone of my friends or piers who had this experience and neither should you. not one. we should not blame them for listening to trusted adults. we should blame the adults in their lives who shamed them for having sex, who lied to them about the effectiveness of condoms as birth control and who use their positions of power and authority to tell them that god would not love them if they use contraseptives. we should place blame upon those who did not trust my friends, me, or any of us to make positive educated decisions for ourselves. we are the generation born to the first wave of aids related deaths in the '80s and early '90s. we're the information and methods to protect ourselves, to save our generation. yet, we are told we're acting
immorally, that we're irresponsible, that we're committing sin. we should keep our legs closed. well, i believe it is immoral to let another generation be lost to hiv. it immoral to lie to young people about their options regarding sexual health. it is immoral to deny life saving measures to young people. it is immoral to infringe upon the rights of another person. well, we are living in the reality of hiv. we need to acknowledge that sex is not a death sentence. it is a natural part of being human and chances are most people are going to have sex at some point in their lives. thus, access to birth control is a matter of health and human rights. we all need to acknowledge these basic facts. women deserve to make decisions for themselves. without anyone else, catholic bishop or not, restricting access to family planning tools. i've often heard that youth are the future of this country. but how can you trust them with
the future of the united states of america if you cannot trust them to make responsible decisions for our own bodies? my name is tea suffer and i'm 19 years old. i believe that every single person in this room and this city and in this country deserves access to birth control, birth control without judgment, without a co-pay, and without secrecy. we deserve more than being another generation lost to hiv and aids. we deserve the option to plan and prevent pregnancy. we deserve choices. we deserve a future. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you to all of our speakers. i'm now going to invite all of them up for a brief question and answer period.
all right. are there any questions? yes? >> the catholic university students, is the issue that catholic university doesn't allow doctors to prescribe or that they don't pay for it? >> catholic university -- >> mike, please. >> sorry. catholic university doesn't allow it or prescribe it or cover it. we can't have condoms on campus. you're penalized for that. we can't get birth control at our health center. and what we're asking for is to be able to get these things and to not have to pay for them because that's just ridiculous. >> are there medications
prescribed that do you have to pay for other are the others covered? the others covered? >> others are covered. >> free of charge? >> yes. >> no matter what the medication is. >> i have to attend catholic university. have to go to the health center. i received from the health center penicillin, anti buy otics and things of this sort for free from the doctor. these sorts of medications are available and accessible at no cost at all for the students. things like contraceptives and birth control are not prescribed, not given and not covered. >> one followup to that, churches, bishops in particular are framing this as a religious issue, that they shouldn't have provide medications they find objectionable. i heard you talk about access.
do you think the church should have to pay for them in the end? would you be satisfied if your school, for example, provided access to these medications even if you did have to pay for them? >> i'm paying $50,000 a year to go to college. i think i should be able to get birth control with that $50,000. >> and also, with the religious -- like i said, the religious liberty complex, i find it very troublesome that they are trampling a minority through a freedom. to negate a freedom with another freedom is very hypocritical that the church is using right now and must be stopped with rationality and with the minority standing up and saying no. >> could i ask a question? the obama administration seems
to be considering some type of compromise on this that might attempt to meet religious leaders' concerns including the catholic church. some of the compromise z appear to have contraception as a separate rider-like transaction. i want to ask you all what sort of compromises mike acceptable to you and which ones will not. >> i will say as catholics for choice, any compromise will represent an extreme step back for students and employees at catholic and noncatholic institutions. as i aren'ted earlier, this decision already rents a compromise in the fact that it obtains any refusal clause whatsoever to allow certain institutions to opt out of this. i will invite some of our other speakers to field this question as well. >> i would also like to speak partially to the previous question in terms of the
catholic bishops not wanting to pay for something that they find objectionables. they have a student body at these universities, a student body that they have accepted at least in some part responsibility for. they should also be able to recognize how important contraceptives are for the health of that student body. to say you find a certain part of my health needs objection bld and you, therefore, don't want to be responsible for that, that's a huge cutout and one that i don't want to allow -- one that i don't feel should be allowed. >> any further questions? >> beyond the groups that you all have participated in, can you tell me what the general feeling is on the campuses that you belong to about this, whether it's something that sparked a lot of controversy or how big of an issue this has become and what the general
feeling is? >> i can speak to that. at georgetown law center we conducted a survey, as i mentioned. this was done prior to the administration's announcement. and i believe it was 94% of our student body strongly agreed that this policy needed to be changed. that's before it got all of this coverage. when the news broke that this was happening, that the obama administration was going to do this, was going to stand up for us and help us to accomplish something that we've been fighting for literally for years -- i have doctors from lsrj georgetown decades ago that the students have been trying to make this happen. they can't on their own because they know we're there for three years and we're gone. they don't have to pay attention to us. that's why we need the administration's help. when students found out that the administration was going to help us in this way, there was an environment of jubilation, just celebration. i told one person that students
went out that night and celebrated. there was some drinking, okay? we were excited. there was some cheering and some yelling in that bar. it was not over a sporting event, it was about access to birth control. i think the person i told that to was sort of incredulous. really, you went out and cheered about health regulations? yeah, we did. the reason we did that is because it has such a huge impact on our lives as students. i think the people who haven't gone to these schools and haven't seen the types of terrible situations that i talked about might not realize that, but yeah, on the campuses, people are talking about it, they're excited about it and they vote. >> about a week ago catholic university students for choice had an event where we collected signatures for petitions about
this issue, and i was so surprised how much support we got. it was such a good feeling. i feel like students at our university are honestly afraid to speak out about this issue. they're afraid of the consequences. so you really -- you don't hear much about it. then suddenly we come and we're like throwing it in their face, and they were so happy we were there. it was overwhelming the amount of support we got. even people that i saw a week or so before that going down to the march for life, the students who identify as pro life students and whatnot, they were signing this. and they were in full support of us. it was absolutely incredible. >> by the way, the petition that was circulating that she was talking about had over 200 signatures and that was only for
the first hour before they were asked to leave. so first hour, 200 signatures. and if we had another hour and another, going at that rate we may have well over 500 signatures at the end of the day. so there is a lot of support on campuses at catholic universities all over. i feel that needs to be pointed out while -- alongside with the opposition that we're having with the catholic conservative groups and the bishops and so forth. >> can you speak to the issue a little further on the political ramifications of this issue and the way the students feel? >> i want to thank all the students, not only those who spoke so eloquently. but if you could look around the room, each of you are here because you're in support of women's conscience and the right
to choose as to what is best for their health. this indicates the obama administration, kathleen seb bell yus who is catholic and went to trinity ti understands these fights well understands what we have to do in this country at this time is support women's health, women's conscience. they've got consciences. they're smart. they can use it. we've seen it up here today. i think the obama administration will be strengthened by what these young people are doing for the future of themselves and their country. >> any further questions? seeing none, i'll thank our speakers one more time and give